Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Hurrah and A Big, Big Question

In the Guardian books blog, Tim Martin ponders the meaning of a Newbery win and writes:
So although it'd be foolish to claim that literary prizes have ever served as much of a guide to anything, here's today's question: how close can we get to a canon in children's literature?

The Newbery Medal used to be quite a decent talent-spotter: in the 70s it awarded top honours to Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia, Susan Cooper's The Grey King (not as good as The Dark is Rising, I reckon, but there you are), Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and Lloyd Alexander's excellent The High King. All of these authors would appear on my list of the best children's writers: all are still being read and enjoyed three decades later.
In the end he asks:
Should the term "children's literature" even exist at all? Over to you. The canon starts here.
Canon indeed. Read the entire article, entitled Hurrah for Children's Literature, then come back and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. I will only speak to the starting gate of a canon of children's literature--it would have to be on the floor of the library over in the 398.8 section: folk tales. Begin here. Folk tales, then myths, then legends mixed with history and biography. Then word mixed with wit in James Thurber, William Steig and EB White (all New Yorker writers). There are novels (A Hundred Dresses and The Bat Poet and Little House in the Big Woods) that I couldn't leave out...
    As a third grader I read many of the Newberry Award Winners that were available to me and kept reading them as they came out...AS a third grade teacher, I notice the target audience seems to be getting older. The first Newberry I remember reading was Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer. I LOVED it, but I can't get anyone to read it now.